NASELLE - Until a month-ending shower on the last day of September, the months of July, August, and September were on a record-setting course for dryness in the Naselle area.
The day-and-a-half of rainfall on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30 produced 0.82 inches of moisture as measured at the Naselle Hatchery, giving the month 1.56 inches of rainfall.
That total, when added to the July rainfall (0.28 of an inch) and the August total (0.46 of an inch), gave the Naselle area a July-Sept. rainfall of only 2.30 inches. An above average June moisture, when 3.05 inches soaked the area during the last three days of the month, is all that kept the four-month total from producing even a more pronounced drought.
The modern-day record for dry summers, in these parts, occurred in 1998 when the July-Sept. rainfall was 1.86 inches and the June-Sept. total for that year was a miserly 3.86 inches. While 2002 didn't quite reach that extreme, it was in the neighborhood.
Holy parched periwinkles, Peggy, it was dry out there! How dry was it? It was dry enough to cause the Naselle Water Company to issue water restriction notices - the first since the new and improved storage and treatment facilities were completed. The Ilwaco water system also experienced problems as the coastal rivers and streams got lower and lower.
The rain at the end of September and the sporadic rainfall since then has reduced the fire danger, but it has not yet ended the water shortage. Regan Wirkkala, manager of the Naselle Water Company, said, "The inch of rain that we got a few days ago gave us more water, but as soon as it quit, the dry ground soaked it right up. Since then, we have gotten a little more rain but we still aren't back to normal. We are still asking people to be careful and not use any more outside water than is necessary. If we get the normal October rainfall, we should be OK."
Naselle's yearly rainfall, through the first nine months, is 66.03 inches, somewhat behind the average of 70.91 inches for that time period. The rainfall year (Oct. 1, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2002) totaled 120.03 inches, well ahead of the average of 114.90 inches.
That discrepancy was created by the very wet winter when November, December, and January were each well above the monthly rainfall average as rain and snow pelted the Northwest.
Rainfall was recorded during 10 days in September, ranging from a day with only a trace to 0.73 of an inch on the last day of the month. Some of the warmest days of the year were mixed in with the days of clouds and moisture.
The temperature reached 88 on Sept. 25 and 87 on Sept. 13. There were seven days with temperatures in the 80s and 11 days with temperatures in the 70s. There were six nights when the temperature dropped into the 30s with a low of 33 on Sept. 21.
Hang in there and enjoy the fall-like weather of October. If history is a guide, the month should become a little more wet and quite a bit cooler as we move further into fall. And then, if history repeats itself, we should be back into the good old rainy season by the time that November rolls around as water shortages become a water surplus.